Matthew 3:11-12 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
John the Baptist was not one to mince words with the pharisees. Calling them a "brood of vipers" is not exactly a warm welcome and the top suggestion to win people. His warning was real and honest. Jesus will see through to our hearts, our thoughts, and our intentions. Our act cannot fool him. Rereading this passage made me consider the winnowing fork. I had never noticed the reference before and actually had to look up the definition.
Winnow: to separate or distinguish valuable from worthless parts
We are all the wheat that will be winnowed. The real question is whether we are the grain or the chaff. When we are called to account for our lives, what will we have to show for the sacrifice that was made for us? My life is the master's treasure that has been entrusted in my care. How will I invest that treasure? There have been times when the treasure was tarnished by my own selfishness. Yet other times it has grown dusty from neglect. The mark of a sound investment is a high level of return yet you can't receive a return without risk. If I'm not willing to be real, different from this world, and unashamed of my beliefs then I cannot expect a return. The risks can be high and painful--in some parts of this world, people meet under the cover of darkness just to safely share the gospel. We may not be fearful of death or imprisonment but if we truly live for Jesus we will suffer loss--friends and family who can't relate and don't understand you anymore, those activities that were "harmless" and "fun" before, just to name a few.
Like the servant who was entrusted with 5 bags of his master's gold and returned to his master 10 bags of gold, I hope to hear "Well done, good and faithful servant!" (Matthew 25:14)